The Spanish Moss Murders (Kolchak The Night Stalker episode December 6, 1974)

“Pepe?” inquires Kolchak of a street hustler. “Pepe Schmepe, my real name’s Maurice Shapiro…” comes the reply in a deadpan Bronx accent. Its that kind of earthy banter and bullshit that keeps me returning to this classic TV series. Kolchak bites off quite a wad with this bogeyman covered with Spainish Moss. The X FILES would get inspiration from this episode years later. Here, the Cajun Bogeyman is created by a University of Chicago student who is doing a sleep study to free his mind from childhood nightmares. Once again, Kolchak is trying to figure out the unthinkable. How do you kill the product of someone’s dreams?

A pair of seemingly unrelated deaths are connected by the fact that each victim had a small amount of Spanish Moss on the body. When more murders occur, Kolchak is able to determine that each victim is indeed connected to a comatose Cajun man who is part of a sleep experiment where he is denied the ability to dream. Aside from the crazy fiddle player, there is not much of interest for a while… and then we get the crazy scientist who performs the cruel sleep study forcing a man to go without dreaming for six weeks. Now, the outcome is rather unlikely… but the idea is awfully clever. The fascinating plot includes not only the unusual creature but has its birth caused by sleep experiments. Even more intriguing is the fact that it will attack/prevent anyone awakening the sleep subject based on survival instincts.

People connected to the sleep subject (Don Mantooth) in unrelated ways are specifically chosen as chest-crushing victims, so Kolchak will have to first discover who (or better, what) is killing them and figure out how to stop it. Richard Kiel is the Cajun Backwoods Boogeyman, covered in moss. When in close proximity to his victims he makes a scary guttural sound. He looks like a Swamp Thing, covered in the moss mixed with green glop, until the end we see faint images of him before Kolchak confronts him in the Chicago sewer system for quite a hair-raising finale. Keenan Wynn has a really small but funny part as Captain Joe Siska: a therapy – attending cop due to his “mad dog” anger issues and outbursts. He is predictably provoked by Kolchak into ruining any progress therapy gave him.

Severn Darden also has a neat part as the sleep professor, Dr. Aaron Pollack, who becomes very annoyed with Kolchak, finding his visits, questions and accusations of the monster tiresome and burdensome.  It is soon discovered, since Kolchak is basically more of an investigator than reporter, that a certain kind of Bayou gum tree stick can be used to kill the Peremalfait (the monster’s real name) if stabbed by it. As usual, Kolchak, scared out of his wits (and rightfully so!) will summon enough courage to go into the sewers to vanquish the beast. The episode kicks off in a great way by showing an exhausted (covered in dry dirt and sewage) Kolchak relating his harrowing experience into his audio recorder. How Kolchak gets stuck in the sewer thanks to a manhole development adds to his predicament. Good stuff.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing, I’ll have to check out this Kolchak show soon (each episode’s premise sounds extremely entertaining)!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope you enjoy them. There are some great plots to get lost in, despite the less than sterling quality of the dvd picture which should have been remastered.

    Like

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